Like it or not, office politics exists almost everywhere and there is no way you can run from it. Office politics can be found at all ranks, from the entry level positions to the managerial posts and it is better to deal with it rather than trying to avoid it. In some organizations, office politics is just harmless gossiping, while in others it is a blood sport often leading to biased promotions and unfair job terminations. While your performance in the work place is essential for success, there is no doubt that office politics have a significant effect on your career success. Some employees enjoy office politics and actively participate to gain advantages and often hinder other employees’ success, but most of the people prefer to avoid it altogether. No doubt, office politics is a messy quagmire which better be avoided at all costs, however this is easier said than done.
Reasons behind office politics
While there is no specific reason why people engage in nasty office politics, the basic motivation is the advantages that most people get to reap by playing well at office politics. These motives are to:
- Gain power or leverage over others
- Get promotion that you do not quite deserve
- Gain competitive edge over your coworkers
- Avail other unethical benefits such as gifts, bonuses, and reducing workload by dumping it on others
Surviving office politics
It is almost impossible to avoid office politics and most of the time people get involved without ever knowing what they are getting into. Since getting involved is not a viable option, you have to learn a few tricks so that you can survive office politics without getting too involved. Here are some fool proof tricks that can not only help you in surviving office politics, but also be effective in advancing your career the right way.
Try to remain positive and calm under all situations. This way your boss will identify you as a dependable person and it will reduce the chance of your falling into the gossiping category. While dealing with office politics is to do best to help others. If you sincerely help someone, you neutralize the feelings of animosity that anyone might have towards you and establishes your position as a team player.
It is very important to have healthy relationship with your coworkers as it takes both time and effort. If you have good relationship with your colleagues, they will be aware that you are honest and sincere with them so they will be comfortable when you mingle with them. This will make you more likable at the workplace and reduce the chances of you being the target of office politics.
It is very easy to get caught up in gossip at workplace, which can be fatal for your career. Gossiping is not only a hue waste of time, it can also lead to problems in the workplace. Every word you say can spread through the office like a jungle fire, often with creative additions from every person who narrates what you said. Sooner or later you comments are bound to reach the person whom you were originally talking about. This will result in alienating a coworker and often creating an enemy at work.
You should keep in mind that your work will speak for itself, so while the others are busy bragging about them and showing off their work, make sure that you are putting in actual effort in your work. However, keep in mind that being invisible is also not an option. So, work hard and make your efforts known, but refrain from blowing your own horn too much.
The way you speak and talk to your coworkers goes a long way as far as office politics is concerned. You have to learn to compliment rather than criticize bluntly. If you have a constructive comment you need to give, make sure that you start the conversation with a compliment. Start by saying what you considered was outstanding about it, then state what in your opinion can be improved. There is hardly any room to be offended when the conversation starts with a compliment and it improves your relationship with the coworkers.
If you want to steer clear of office politics, the most effective is to stay clear of the do not align yourself with any group. Often when a newcomer with exceptional skills joins the company, he is the target of discrimination and office politics. He is excluded from social circles, rumors related to him are spread and gossiping becomes the most common tool to be used against him. You should never join hands to persecute a co-worker or a newcomer. One of the most destructive, uncivilized and unethical behaviors on the job is the refusal to accept a new employee. This kind of behavior never goes unnoticed by the managers and if they start investigating, it is quite possible that the very initiator of such actions might point a finger at you. If you are unable to defend yourself in such a situation, you might end up losing your job, so it is always better to remain neutral and steer clear of such politics.
The worst thing you can ever do to a colleague is to take credit for a job that he made possible. You should always give credit where it is due by acknowledging any work done by them in public. This creates a bridge of trust between you and your colleagues and sends the message that you are not interested in office politics loud and clear.
Never join your colleagues in berating or badmouthing your superior or the organization you work for as your opinion might be presented to the boss as the only voice of opposition, as is often the case in office politics. Your vicious colleagues might be waiting for a chance to ruin your impression in front of your boss and by speaking ill or by only assenting with a person who is criticizing the boss; you might give him the ultimate chance to ruin your career. No matter how badly you want to speak against a superior, never do it in your office. If you have to vent your feelings, find a friend or a family member to share what you have to say. This will help you in keeping your peace while at work.
Keep your eyes and ears open:
Never believe what you hear without verification. In a workplace every kind of gossip is circulated and most of it is untrue. Basing your professional decision purely on hearsay can be fatal for your career.
Stay in your boss’s good books:
You should always try to maintain a good relationship with your boss, regardless of what kind of a person he is. Getting in arguments and opposing the boss can do you a lot of harm. If you have a cordial relationship with your boss, then there is a high chance that if you are ever in a hot spot owing to vicious office politics, you boss will definitely look out for you.